Pistachio and Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I don't bake many cakes.  I'm always happy to eat them, but the thought of frosting a triple-tiered cake stresses me out.  It's probably for the best that we don't have these treats around the house, as will power has never been one of my strengths.  There are no calories in a sliver or in a finger swipe of icing, right?
Breakfast breads are the cakes I so fondly remember from my childhood... banana bread or a sour cream coffee cake were made often, prepared for Sunday brunch or a quick afternoon snack.  I don't make them quite as frequently as my mom does, but I do get the urge from time to time.  They don't last long, either.  I'll cut the majority for Eric to take to work, give a few pieces to friends, and save the rest for us to enjoy for a few days.
When asked to create a recipe for the KitchenAid blog, The Kitchenthusiast, I knew a coffee cake was in order. Baking a cake with pistachios has been on my list for a long time (years, in fact), so I used it as an opportunity to play around with what I believed would be the perfect pairing: pistachios and sour cream coffee cake.  And this guy (and his taste-tester husband) were not at all disappointed.
Disclaimer: While I was compensated for this post, all opinions here are my own.

Fig and Balsamic Ice Cream

I've had some unsuccessful attempts at making ice cream. I blame myself for the majority of these failures (if one can refer to them as such... can something that has cream and sugar in it be bad?).  My mistake has always been that I've made ice cream in the middle of summer. Now, that might make perfect sense to you folks, but when you keep your apartment at 76 degrees on a balmy day, well, things aren't likely to freeze very easily. I think my ice cream maker was having issues too. So, between those two things, the stuff wasn't turning out the way I'd hoped.

Anyway, I decided recently that I'm not giving up. Nope. In fact, I want to start making ice cream on a regular basis. Maybe not every week, but once or twice a month (I think it might be time to get back into that gym routine).  I may not post every success on here, but given how good this turned out, I thought it'd be wrong to keep it to myself. Despite my obsession with Jeni's Ice Cream and her beautiful book (which, shockingly, has sat on my book shelf, virtually untouched for two years.  Well, let me tell you, that book has now found a permanent place in our kitchen.


Fig and Balsamic Ice Cream

(ice cream base from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer)


For the Fig-Balsamic Sauce 1 cup figs, stems removed and fruit quartered 1/2 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

For the Ice Cream 2 cups whole milk 4 teaspoons cornstarch 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/4 cup heavy cream 2/3 cup sugar 2 tablespoons light corn syrup


1. To prepare the fig and balsamic sauce, add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Once the figs begin to soften, use a wooden spoon to break up the pieces.  When the sauce begins to thicken, remove from heat and let cool while you make the ice cream base.

2. To make the ice cream, start by stirring together the milk and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Set this slurry aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and salt.

3. Prepare a large bowl of ice and water.

4. Combine the rest of the milk, as well as the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the corn starch slurry.  Bring back to a boil over and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

5. At this point, slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Carefully pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

6.Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. Once the base is finished, add the ice cream to a storage container, alternating between the base and the fig and balsamic sauce.  Press a sheet of parchment directly on the surface of the ice cream and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Spiced Double Chocolate Cookies

I woke up Saturday morning with Eric sleeping soundly next to me and Maki curled up at the end of the bed.  It took me a moment to realize what was so strange about this: it had been 2 months since I'd been home on a weekend.  Maybe all that travel is why this summer has flown by.  I took this as an opportunity to relax a bit, which meant baking cookies, followed by a day of eating and drinking and time spent outdoors with friends (eating and drinking, of course).  It was exactly what I needed.  A chance to decompress a little.

While I sat at the table, dropping heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet, Eric walked into the room and inspected the cookies that were cooling on the wire rack.  Always eager to be my taste-tester, he snatched one up and took a bite.

These are great!  Where did you get the recipe?

I looked up.

What do you mean?  I created it.  

They're really, good. There's some kick there. Cayenne?  

Yup. And some cinnamon too.

I love that.  Gonna post these on the blog?

Of course.



Spiced Double Chocolate Cookies

Servings 2 dozen cookies


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, shaved using a chef's knife


1. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper and cinnamon and set aside.

3. In the bowl of a food processor (or this can be done with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment) add the butter and both sugars and pulse until combined. This may require that you stop the machine periodically and, using a spatula, pull the butter/sugar mixture from the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl and pulse to combine.

4. Carefully add half the dry ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

5. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and, using a spatula, fold in the chocolate.

6. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of dough into the palms of your hands and roll into two and a half inch balls.  Place dough balls onto a non-stick baking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper) and space them about 2 inches apart.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.

7. Remove from the oven and let sit on the tray for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Let cool completely before serving.

Peach and Lavender Sangria Popsicles

A text came in from my mother the other week with a picture of my niece.  She was holding her first popsicle, which, not surprisingly, she was enjoying tremendously. It brought back such sweet childhood memories.  As a kid, I could eat those one after the next on a blistery summer day and never get tired of them.  Ones with pieces of fruit in them were pure perfection.  I'd plop down in front of the television and lick and chomp and slurp before it melted all over the floor.

One of the many fun treats that came out of my cookbook shoot from a few weeks ago was a popsicle maker. I'd been holding back on purchasing one, thinking that it was kind of lame and gimmicky. That was until, of course, I actually tried making my own... on a 90 + degree day. And how magnificent that first bite was. Eric and I immediately looked at each other and blurted out with big silly grins on our faces: boozy popsicles.  He suggested making a batch with sangria, which I thought was a fabulous idea. Instead of sweetening it with regular simple syrup, though, I decided to infuse them with some beautiful lavender my friend sent me from their trip to Hawaii.

There were a few points during the heat wave we experienced last week when these came in handy.  At five o'clock (or - ahem - maybe a little earlier than that), we'd get home and rush to the freezer.  Needless to say, I expect a few more batches will be prepared over the next month and a half.

Enjoy and stay cool everyone!


Peach and Lavender Sangria Popsicles

Servings 10-12 ice pops, depending on the size of the mold

Tools Ice pop molds Food processor Whisk Mixing Bowl Pitcher


1 cup water 3 tablespoons dry lavender 1 cup sugar 2 ripe peaches 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 1 bottle of dry white wine


1. Make the simple syrup by bringing the water and lavender to a boil in a pot.  Whisk in the sugar until fully dissolved.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep for another 30 minutes.  Once it has cooled, strain the syrup.

2. While the syrup is cooling, peel one ripe peach and cut it into large pieces.  Place the peach into the bowl of a food processor along with the orange juice.  Puree until blended smooth.

3. Transfer the peach mixture to a pitcher. Add the white wine and 1/2 cup lavender simple syrup.  Stir to combine.

4. Thinly slice the remaining, unpeeled peach.  Place three peach slices inside the cup of each popsicle mold.  Fill each mold with the sangria and put in the freezer until frozen.


Apricot and Cherry Crumble

“All men are created equal. Now matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.” - Harvey Milk

How far we've come.

Last week, when the Supreme Court announced it's decision to strike down DOMA and to allow same-sex marriages to resume in California, I sat at my computer, stunned.   I wasn't exactly speechless.  In fact, I screamed so loud I'm pretty sure our neighbors heard me. I hadn't expected to be so emotional, but it hit me hard.  As much as we've tried to tell ourselves that our marriage (which took place four years ago on June 20th)... our love... our life... was no different than anyone else's, DOMA was always there to point out that it wasn't real.  At least that's how it felt... and it hurt terribly.

When the decision came in, I knew we had to do something to celebrate.  Maybe lobster and champagne. Something decadent.  I spent the afternoon buying groceries to prepare a nice meal.  By the time Eric got home from work that evening, I had the table decorated with wine glasses, cheese and cut up rounds of baguette. As he entered the kitchen, I rushed over and threw my arms around him.  "We're married... again!" I said. He laughed and gave me a kiss.  "Yay," he replied. "Now let's pop open some vino!"

Apricot and Cherry Crumble

Servings 6-8


For the filling 2 pounds apricots, pits removed 1 cup pitted cherries, sliced in half 1/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg Juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the topping 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Vanilla ice cream Lemon verbena, optional


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Using 1 tablespoon of butter or cooking spray, grease a 9 inch glass pie plate.

3. Place the apricot and cherries into a large bowl, toss with sugar, flour and nutmeg and spread across the pie plate.  Drizzle the lemon juice over fruit.

4. In another bowl, add the dry ingredients for the topping.  Using a fork, mix the topping ingredients while drizzling the butter in, until it begins to come together. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and pat it down until it has completely covers the pan.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has turned a slightly golden-brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream topped with fresh lemon verbena.


Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Let's call this "bread" what it really is.  It's a cake... a chocolatey cake that I've shaped into a loaf and thrown some zucchini into just so I feel a little bit better about eating it at all hours of the day.  Sometimes chocolate is what we crave.  Don't resist it.  Give in.  Make one for yourself and give the other to a friend or tuck it in the freezer for the next time you're hit with a craving.  And don't feel guilty when you slice into it for a quick breakfast... or a mid-morning snack... or right before bed.  We all deserve a little chocolate every now and then.


Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients 4 cups grated zucchini 3 eggs 1 cup olive oil 2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup unsweetened, natural (not Dutched) cocoa powder 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans with butter or baking spray.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

4. Using a wooden spoon, combine half of the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.  Repeat with the remainder of the dry ingredients.  Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

5. Transfer half the batter into each of the loaf pans.  Smooth out with a spatula.

6. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

I used to be really big into Valentine's Day.  Giving gifts, chocolates, flowers, cards (yeah... not just one but two, maybe three).  I'd make dinner reservations at expensive restaurants and plan out a night of activities. Over the years, though, I've toned it down a bit.  Eric and I don't exchange cards.  We don't buy each other presents or flowers.  There are no chocolate-covered strawberries.  Instead we stay at home, eat lobster and drink champagne, followed by a decadent dessert (like these raspberry bars that we're obsessed with... which contain three sticks of butter).  We spend the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with Maki, the three of us wrapped up in blankets.  It may seem boring to some, but I want nothing more than a little quiet time with the man that I love.


Raspberry Crumb Bars

(very minimally adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour)

makes 9 large bars, or 16 small bars


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract


1 1/2 cups raspberry jam (with seeds)

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar


1. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on high for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and beat at medium speed for another 2 minutes.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Beat to incorporate.

5. Wrap 1/4 of the dough in parchment paper and the remaining dough in a separate piece of parchment paper.  With the larger piece of dough, gently press it into an 8-inch round disk.  Place the smaller piece of dough in the freezer for 2 hours (or until hard) and the larger one in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

6. Once the dough is ready, set a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and lightly flour each side of the disk.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between the two sheets of parchment paper until it is 13 by 9 inches.

8. Transfer the dough to a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.  Even out the dough across the pan by pressing down gently with your fingers.

9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the shortbread is light brown.  At this point, remove from the oven and let cool.

10. Once it has cooled, spread the raspberry jam evenly over the shortbread.

11. Remove the dough from the freezer and shred the dough using a grater.  Sprinkle the grated dough over the raspberry jam.  Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

12. Remove the baking pan and let cool completely.

13. Once they have cooled, sift the confectioners' sugar over the top.  Cut into 9 bars (or smaller if preferred).

Tags: BakeDessert


Meringue-Topped Baked Grapefruit

We need a bigger bed! That's the first thought that pops into my head almost every morning; the first thought after a restless night of little to no sleep.  I don't have many regrets in life... but not getting a king-size mattress is one of them.  Because here's the thing: two good-sized guys fit on a queen comfortably. Throw a 52 pound boxer pup into the mix, though, and it's really tight.  Maki also has a tendency to spread herself out, positioning her body in a way that's perpendicular to ours, making it so her head and butt are pressed right up against our backs or legs.  In many instances, this results in one of us (usually me) getting pushed off the bed.  And I can't forget to mention the many times I've awoken to her moans, groans, ear scratching, and butt licking (her butt... though, once in a while she'll find an exposed foot or knee to go to town on).

Mornings can be a bit rough.  Coffee is always brewed and, depending on the amount of rest I got the night before, I'll go for one to three mugs.  When I'm in need of a special treat, I bake up some grapefruit topped with meringue and smear pats of butter on toast.  It's the fastest way to bring a smile to this face... and with the limited quantity of sleep I've been getting, I need it.

Baked Grapefruit with Meringue

serves 4


2 red grapefruits, cut in half

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar


Grapefruit knife

4 Ramekins, large enough to hold grapefruit halves (see notes below)*

Stand mixer or hand mixer


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Using the grapefruit knife or sharp paring knife, cut the segments away from the membrane, but keep them held within their sections.  Place grapefruit halves in the ramekins and then transfer ramekins to a baking pan.  *The ramekins will hold any liquid in and will make it easy for serving.  If you do not have ramekins, you can place the grapefruit directly on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil.

3. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (alternatively, a hand mixer can be used).  Whip the eggs at high speed.  Once they become foamy, gradually sprinkle the sugar in (maybe a few tablespoons at a time).  Whip the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.

4. Top each grapefruit halves with heaping spoonfuls of the meringue.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.  If you want a bit more color on top, broil the grapefruit for an additional minute, being careful not to burn it.

6. Remove and let sit until they are cool enough to handle.  Serve.



Whole Wheat Carrot Bread

Love is a shelter.

Love is a cause.

Love goes on forever.

Yeah, love will lead us all.

Love! It is our honor.

Love! It is our all.

Love goes on forever.

Yeah, love it is our home.

That's What's Up//Edward Sharpe + the Magnetic Zeros

Carrot Bread3.2

Whole Wheat Carrot Bread

makes 1 loaf


2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups grated carrot

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the oil and eggs.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix in the oil and eggs.

5. Fold in the grated carrot, raisins, and chocolate chips.

6. Pour mixture into loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.


Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

I know... these may not look chewy, but they are. I promise. If they weren't, I wouldn't put them up here. Cookies are meant to be served the way salmon or a steak should be prepared, a nice sear on the outside, but raw in the middle. I just don't mess around with cookies. If there's too much crunch, I can't eat them. But what's so great about these is how the rim is crispy, making for the most wonderful sound as you bite into them. Then, you get to the good stuff. The blend of sugar and spice; the festive flavors of ginger, cinnamon and clove. It brings to mind lazy weekends... curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a book: the lead in for an afternoon nap.  I've been making these ginger molasses cookies for years, altering the recipe slightly as I prepare each batch.  I hate to use the P-word, but I can't help it... these are kind of perfect.

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

(Note: This recipe will make 3 dozen smaller cookies, if the dough is rolled into 1 inch round balls, as directed below.  However, I also like them a bit larger. In which case, you will get fewer cookies, but they will be bigger (not that size matters or anything))
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar 1/4 cup dark molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 4 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped coarsely
Granulated sugar, for rolling dough balls

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.3. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  Add to wet mixture and beat until combined.  Stir in crystallized ginger.

4. Depending on the size you would like your cookies, form into 1 or 1.25 inch balls.  Roll dough balls in granulated sugar.

5. Place dough balls onto a non-stick cookie sheet (or a sheet lined with parchment paper) two inches apart.  Using a spatula, gently press down the tops of each cookie dough ball.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until outer rim is golden brown.

7. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.



Red Wine Poached Pears

We got the most wonderful gift.  Following my trip to visit Harry and David in October, I received an e-mail from their marketing team informing me that I'd be getting 6 months of their Fruit of the Month club.  And here's the thing... I so rarely buy fruit at the store.  I like it enough, but I rarely cook with it. We'll pick up some lemons and limes and maybe an orange or two for cocktail-makings, but to actually eat, no.  It's not that we don't enjoy fruit, it's just never on our shopping list.

So these boxes we've been getting from H&D have been a treat.  This month, we were graced with their Riviera Pears.  Really, they're perfect. I mean, look at them in these pictures.  Have you seen finer pears?

You really don't have to do anything to them, but if you are going to cook them, I suggest poaching them. And if you're going to that, well, red wine makes for a fabulous poaching liquid.  While you're at it, you might as well top it with some lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraîche.  Does anything sound better?  I don't think so.


Red Wine Poached Pears


4 pears

750 ml bottle of red wine

3/4 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

1 cinnamon stick

1 clove

Orange rind


Juice of 1/2 a lemon


1. Peel the pears and cut off a small portion of the bottoms, so that they sit flat.  Submerge pears in a bowl of water and lemon juice.

2. In a saucepan big enough to hold the pears, add a bottle of wine, the sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, clove, and orange rind.  Bring to a simmer and let the sugar dissolve.

3. Once this has occurred, place the pears into the pan so that the wine covers them.  To keep them submerged, take a piece of parchment paper and cut a circle big enough to fit on top of the sauce pan.  Place a plate over this to allow the parchment to touch the pears.

4. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until they are tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon, let cool to room temperature, and serve with a dollop of  lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraîche.

Tags: Dessert